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Old 12-07-06, 05:47 PM   #1
Pete Hamer
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What's your idea of a good shop mechanic?

Please help me with my quest to provide the best customer service possible. I am wondering specifically about what customers look for when searching for a new bike mechanic. How do you know if a mechanic is going to be any good before they even work on your bike?

Do you like a mechanic that can recite technical jargon? Do training certificates mean anything? Do you like when mechanics have blogs? How important is the store that the mechanic works at? Do you want a mechanic that rides? Do you look for labor warranties? Don't care, just bring bike to closest shop. etc. etc.

I already know there are people on this forum who hate LBS mechanics so you don't need to remind me in this thread. Thanks

Pete H.
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Old 12-07-06, 06:03 PM   #2
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I would like one that isn't irritable and grumpy with a crappy attitude. Then of course it would be nice if he was good at working on bikes.
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Old 12-07-06, 06:25 PM   #3
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I like mechanics that fix your bike while you wait, give you adequate time to articulate what you are interested in (within reason) and able to give good advice without being overly attitudinal. Mechanics that ride get bonus points since they just seem to be able to relate a little better. My local Pro Shop mechanic has these traits, he also runs the shop singlehandedly, so customers know they must be respectful too. Being an excellent wheelbuilder who provides service no questions asked after the build for any issues that arise is a huge plus. Respecting the retro riders like myself in a manner that I don't feel snubbed in comparison to the big spenders is a plus as well. One more thing: I really appreciate it when the mechanic cuts me some slack when I bring in the occasional ebay or (God forbid ) Nashbar part. I know I deserve a partial lecture about how he needs to sell parts to stay in business...I'm just glad he yields the floor for one minute while I try the "I've got 2 kids, and 2 car payments, and damn this hobby is expensive and I'm still buying rims and labor so please cut me some slack here..." argument.
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Old 12-07-06, 07:15 PM   #4
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A honest and knoeledgeable one...

RR.
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Old 12-07-06, 10:00 PM   #5
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One of the finest bike mechanics I have ever met (competent and personable) owns the bike shop nearest to my home. He is about 50 years old and understands both modern and vintage equipment.
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Old 12-07-06, 10:04 PM   #6
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My boss dave. The man knows everything there is to know about bikes, and he also really reasonable. One time a homelss guy came in with a flat tire, so dave gave the guy a patch kit, a cheap mini pump, and taught him how to change a flat free of charge.
I have learned alot working for him in the past year.
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Old 12-07-06, 10:06 PM   #7
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Good personality first.
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Old 12-07-06, 10:16 PM   #8
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My boss is an excellent mechanic and also very good with people.

Me on the other hand, a good mechanic (says I'm the one better thats worked there) but not as good with people (rather shy with customers). I ride/race and also help out with my buddies but people skills work better there since i know the guys. They usually all come to me so they dont have to pay the shop to do the work.

We both know how to fix and build wheels, make custom fixes, etc that a good mechanic needs to know.

The only certification that I know of my boss has is the Shimano Wheel cert. Most people in my area don't care if you are certified. However, I do plan on getting USCF Mechanic certified, and Campy Certified so it looks good on the resume when the eventual college graduation comes and I have to change shops.

In my honest opinion, nothing beats a really good mechanic. But if they arent tolerable, it'd be better to hire the next person on the list that you can stand.
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Old 12-08-06, 06:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Hamer
....Do you like when mechanics have blogs? Pete H.
Are you serious?

Bob
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Old 12-08-06, 08:23 AM   #10
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Retired SAE certified mechanic that likes working on bikes and hangs out at the bike shop working for tips when not riding.
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Old 12-08-06, 08:37 AM   #11
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Of course: competent, honest, and being personable is pretty important for the #1 mechanic (a shop can have a second or third mechanic who mainly just works and doesn't interact with the customers).
I've been annoyed with mechanics who aren't aware of the limits of their knowledge. There's a guy down at the local shop, good mechanic and helpful, basically knows what he need to know for working in the modern bike business, and knows it well, but there are some things he doesn't know (e.g., what centerpull caliper brakes are, that single-pivot sidepulls have a steel, not aluminum, centerbolt, that powdercoats typically don't have a clearcoat on top) and he's not aware or humble about these gaps in his knowledge. Not that he's cocky, he just doesn't know what he doesn't know, and doesn't appear aware of the possibility.
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Old 12-08-06, 09:03 AM   #12
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+1 on the attitude. I like a mechanic that knows his stuff, but can help out a family that received some second hand Walmart bikes, get their bikes working as best as they can, help them understand the limitations of the bikes and make them feel good about the riding and efforts they are doing.
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Old 12-08-06, 09:16 AM   #13
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Another vote for attitude. A good mechanic can tell a customer that something isn't worth fixing without making the customer feel like an idiot for asking.
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Old 12-08-06, 10:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby Lex
Are you serious?

Bob
I know it sounds weird, doesn't it? I don't do it but it seems to be a growing trend. Some blog on the shops website, some have their own blogsite. Seems to me most bike mechanics would get themselves into trouble if left to their own devices.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm seeing a definate trend about the "nice mechanic" vs. "grumpy mechanic".
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Old 12-08-06, 10:41 AM   #15
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Attitude IS important, but I can easily tolerate a mechanic who is not a ray of sunshine, IF:

--they listen carefully to what I'm saying as I describe the problem

--they don't instantly make an assumption that they know what the cause is, even if I've already ruled that out. I'd much rather hear them say "I don't know right this minute what is causing that, but I will check all possibilities until I find it."

I don't care if they're grumpy or smiley, but I really want them to listen to me with an open mind. And if the description of the problem is being written up by someone who is NOT going to do the actual work, either let me write it, or take down *exactly* what I say about it. Be a transcriber, not a translator.
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Old 12-08-06, 10:42 AM   #16
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Pete,

Back in the day I was a sales droid/mechanic's helper at a first rate bike shop in Fairfax (actually one of 7 in the region, The Bike Exchange). The true 'lead' mechanics (the guys who wrenched fulltime) all had to show their chops at the company's warehouse building up bikes right out of the box for a few months before they were unleashed on the various locations. They all also had schwinn college certifications as well as some other intensive seminars.

Every mechanic I knew all said the same thing, that the time they spent just building up bikes from scratch was invaluable experience.

FWIW, the mechanics who were curt, rude, or just plain aholes were all also racers. I don't know what the correlation was, as there were sales guys who raced too who were nice guys, but for some reason the mechanics who raced were uniformally horses' asses to us and the customers.
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Old 12-08-06, 01:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawkd
Attitude IS important, but I can easily tolerate a mechanic who is not a ray of sunshine, IF:
--they listen carefully to what I'm saying as I describe the problem
--they don't instantly make an assumption that they know what the cause is, even if I've already ruled that out. I'd much rather hear them say "I don't know right this minute what is causing that, but I will check all possibilities until I find it."
I don't care if they're grumpy or smiley, but I really want them to listen to me with an open mind. And if the description of the problem is being written up by someone who is NOT going to do the actual work, either let me write it, or take down *exactly* what I say about it. Be a transcriber, not a translator.
I'm completely in agreement with lawkd on all of this. But then, I prefer people who are straightforward and honest and open-minded. Don't mind grumpiness so long as it doesn't interfere with these factors. My academic advisor is a solid guy in whom I have lots of trust, even though he isn't typically a "nice" person.
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Old 12-08-06, 02:51 PM   #18
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The mechanic in my LBS basically just does the work on the problem. The folks up front own the place, listen carefully, note the problem, and then let me know in person or by phone what the options are.

They've had no problem installing parts from other sources, and have always done a great job. I don't know whether the installation on outside parts is a little bumped up from installing stuff I might have bought from them, but I don't really have much of a problem with that anyway. The accessory prices are a bit high for my taste, but the work their wrench does is great.
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Old 12-08-06, 04:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bockman
FWIW, the mechanics who were curt, rude, or just plain aholes were all also racers. I don't know what the correlation was, as there were sales guys who raced too who were nice guys, but for some reason the mechanics who raced were uniformally horses' asses to us and the customers.
You don't even have to talk to those types to know who they are.
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